Murders in New Jersey increased by about 25% last year, but overall crime fell
TRENTON – Murders increased last year in New Jersey at the fastest rate per capita since 2003, but not as much as nationally, according to data from an annual FBI crime report released on Monday .
New Jersey’s murder rate rose from 3 per 100,000 in 2019 to 3.7 per 100,000 in 2020, up 23%, reaching its highest level since 2016. But the national murder rate has increased more quickly, going from 5.1 to 6.5 between these two years. , reaching a level last seen in 1997.
New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said the same factors driving the nationwide increase are occurring in New Jersey.
“I think the pandemic, the stressors caused by it, and I think at the heart of it are illegal guns in the hands of violent repeat offenders,” Callahan said.
“This weapon used in Newark, we saw it used in Trenton. We then saw it used in Atlantic City, ”he said. “And our ability to focus not only on these violent offenders, but also on getting these criminal weapons off the streets, is where we work with all of our federal, state, county and local partners.
Callahan said that on Sunday on Interstate 78, nine illegal handguns were recovered during a traffic stop. Gov. Phil Murphy said 80% of firearms used in New Jersey crimes are brought into New Jersey from out of state and called it “infuriating.”
Summaries of Uniform Crime Reports on the New Jersey State Police website show that the number of murders rose from 262 in 2019 to 329 last year, an increase of 67, or nearly 26%.
This included increases from 20 to 41 in Mercer County, from 12 to 31 in Union County, from four to 16 in Salem County, and from 20 to 31 in Passaic County.
The trend continues into 2021. Callahan said the number of gunshot murder victims increased 15% year-to-date compared to 2020.
“I don’t think we are immune to an increase in violent crime. It’s an American reality, ”Murphy said. “… I think the pandemic is probably a big factor in terms of stress, mental stress that weighs on so many people. “
The murder rate in New Jersey is generally lower than the national rate, although the two were the same in 2013 at 4.5 per 100,000. The ratio of rates – and therefore relative safety in New Jersey to the country as a whole – last year was the highest since 1996.
While the overall violent crime rate rose nationwide for the first time in four years in 2020, reaching an unprecedented level since 2010, that rate fell in New Jersey for the ninth consecutive year and the 25th in over the past 27.
The FBI says the violent crime rate in New Jersey in 2020 was 195.4 per 100,000 population. The rate has fallen by more than half since 1999, when it last exceeded 400 per 100,000, and by more than two-thirds since 1994, when it exceeded 600 per 100,000.
The rate of rape fell by almost 17% between 2019 and 2020. Rates of robberies fell by 23%. But not all trends were good: Rates of aggravated assault increased 5% and were at their highest level since 2013.
A similar story exists among non-violent crime. The property crime rate fell 15% in 2020 in New Jersey, the highest in more than 35 years. The rate has been cut by more than half since 2005.
Burglary rates have fallen by more than 20%. Theft rates fell 13%. Auto theft rates have fallen but only slightly, less than 1%.
Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].
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